The Importance of the Birth Certificate
Do you know the purpose of a birth certificate?
The legal portion of the birth certificate shows the child’s name, date of birth, and parents’ names, among other things. It establishes Texas residency and US citizenship. It provides legal identity. A birth certificate is required for Social Security, Medicaid, school enrollment, driver’s license, social services such as a marriage license, and more. In addition, it serves as proof of relationship to parents, which is required for child support services, inheritance, and eligibility for benefits.
The statistical portion of the birth certificate records the parent’s education, socio-demographic data, and prenatal history. The statistical portion allows health officials to identify regional health issues and tells us about the health of mothers and babies. It allows us to identify public health trends such as teenage pregnancy, birth defects, and HIV. It is used to determine government funding for public health. It also helps determine what programs get priority for government funding such as the Abstinence and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, Headstart, and Children with Special Healthcare Needs.
What do parents need to know?
- Availability of birth record information – Certified copies of birth certificates only include the legal information such as name, date of birth, state, city, county of birth, sex, mother’s name, father’s name, date of filing, file number, certification statement, seal, and signature. The statistical information collected at the time of birth is not released to the public. [TAC title 25 181.28]
- Who can receive the birth certificate – Only properly qualified applicants (registrant, immediate family member either by blood or marriage or adoption, a guardian, legal agent, or representative) may receive a certified copy of the birth certificate. [TAC title 25 181.1]
- Release of birth record information – legal birth record information is made available to the public only after the 75th year anniversary of the date of birth. [TAC title 25 181.10]
- Birth record information use – the information provided on the birth record is used for a variety of purposes to assist in providing better health care for the people of Texas. The information is compiled into categories and trends to determine what characteristics contribute to health issues such as infant mortality and other critical infant problems. This data can be used to implement health care programs and to determine the need for funding in certain health areas. The personal information on the birth record is not indicated when the data is compiled.